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SMG interviews Bob Lipsyte

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. http://www.sportsmediaguide.com/interviews/robert-lipsyte/

  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    In the early 1990s when he was writing for the NYT, the paper I worked on ran a weekly roundup of column excerpts off the supplemental wires. I often used a Lipsyte sound bite because he always had something to say and said it well. Funny, though, there were some columnists at the time who were best suited to that format -- you could take a couple graphs from them and the reader would get the whole picture and you'd spare them the other 20 inches that essentially repeated the point. He was like a pitcher with one pitch -- a great pitch, but still one pitch. You knew what he'd be throwing: Somebody Is An Asshole, or a very minor twist, The System Sucks (Because It's Run By Assholes). What made Red Smith so great was he had an assortment of pitches. He could be funny, he could take someone to task, he could be eloquent, and he seemed to enjoy what he was doing. With Lipsyte, you got the impression it was nothing but work for him. After reading this interview, I can see that he doesn't really like sports very much.

    I have that Gallico book. I read it in 1979. I wasn't working for him -- I was a part-timer on a nearby daily -- but a weekly sports editor who was renting me a room turned me on to that book. I'll have to pull it down and give it another look when I have time.
  3. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    What Gallico did, and few sportswriters did then or do now, was care about the craft of the games, not only how the athletes did their thing but also how much they cared about the doing. He took seriously what they took seriously. Here's a chunk chosen at random from "Farewell to Sport." Page 89: "Tunney was the only fighter I ever knew who spent hours on the road, practicing running backwards, because when a fighter goes into retreat in the ring, he moves in that direction and that direction only. His famous retreat from Dempsey and a certain knockout after he got up off the floor in Chicago may have been unromantic, but it was effective and masterly. He was prepared for it."
  4. Sly

    Sly Active Member

    Well said, Frank. After reading this interview, I came away feeling very sad for Lipsyte. I haven't seen that bitter of an interview in a long, long time.
  5. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Ridgway,

    My favorite Lipsyte piece focused on Dick Tiger, a noble and tragic figure. It was neither Somebody is an Asshole nor the System Sucks. I take your point but I'll have to go back and look at his collection, Assignment: Sports. Never thought about it but the title does, I guess, speak to a certain joylessness. In his defence I'd say both themes are of an era--the former might seem sour and petty (but was many if not most times quite true and then novel) while the latter could be in the right circumstances (e.g. Curt Flood) needed and sympathetic.

  6. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    <i>“I liked hardcore sports writing most covering hockey and Nascar where people were interested in explaining what they did and why, the gritty joy of digging the puck out of a corner or pancaking someone into the Plexiglas…</i>

    OK, then what do you do on your <b>second</b> day of covering hockey?
  7. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    write about neutral zone traps.

    re: the interview. he doesn't much like athletes or sports. but i'm wondering if that matters. can't you do your job even if you don't?
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    That's a pretty accurate generalization for athletes, isn't it?
  9. Anyone else read Lipsyte's "Accidental Sportswriter" memoir?

    I loved it, although I'm probably a target of his criticism in many ways. (In that I'm a mere beat hack who has to shovel a lot of BS on a daily basis just as part of the nature of my job).

    I know he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but I wish we had more Lipsyte's. You look at modern college football, as kids brains are turned to mush for the benefit of this multibillion dollar industry, and the most prominent "national" writers are using their immense platform to whine about playoff systems and such. Sometimes it helps to have someone step back and look at the big picture. Most of us aren't lucky enough to have that platform. Lipsyte did, and he used it well.

    Aside from the journalism stuff, I thought there was a lot of poignant personal stuff, especially about his dad. Anyway, it's a quick read, but I really recommend it.

    (Sorry to revive a dead thread, but I thought this interview would be a quick refresher for those people who don't want to read the book.)
  10. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Member

    Agreed. Excellent books. And, yes, embarrassing that journalists, politicians, and fans focus so much on playoffs--which benefit themselves--while disregarding the welfare of athletes. That the BCS has come under antitrust scrutiny while the labor cartel imposed by the NCAA has not is laughable.
  11. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    now he's the WWL ombudsman.


    so what is he going to say about the layoffs?
  12. Surprising choice for ombudsman, but a good one, I think. Reading the interview, he seems well-prepared for the job.
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